Susan Shapiro

Susan Shapiro, an award-winning writer and professor, freelances for the NY Times, Washington Post, WSJ, LA Times, NY Magazine, Salon, Elle, Oprah, Wired & New Yorker online. She's the bestselling author/coauthor of 18 books her family hates like Five Men Who Broke My Heart, Lighting Up, Unhooked, The Bosnia List and her recent memoir The Forgiveness Tour. She lives with her scriptwriter husband in Manhattan and uses her writing/publishing guides The Book Bible and Byline Bible to teach her wildly popular "instant gratification takes too long" courses at The New School, NYU, Columbia University and in private classes & seminars - now online. Follow her on Twitter at @susanshapironet, Instagram at @Profsue123 or email


The Sergeant on CNN’s Jake Tapper
Booklist starred review of Book Bible
Library Journal starred review of World In Between
Book List starred review of World In Between
Publishers Weekly Starred Review of Forgiveness Tour
Business Insider ❤️s The Byline Bible & Sue’s Zoom class

Winner of 2023 ASJA book Award

Winner of 2019 ASJA Book Award
Winner of 2018 Best Book Award for Writing & Publishing

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Only as Good as Your Word
Writing Lessons From My Favorite Literary Gurus
by Susan Shapiro

In this funny, moving, and revealing ride, Susan Shapiro
recounts her obsessive quest for success as a professional
writer, and the beloved mentors who saved her life and her
career along the way.

On Sale Now!

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Read an excerpt from The Nervous Breakdown

...Susan Shapiro ingeniously shapes her memoir around seven mentors who influenced her life. The result is a gem of a guidebook for writers...she generously shares insight and advice from her favorite gurus...the best the last chapter...15 must-follow steps to finding people who can do more for your career than you ever could alone.
Writer's Digest

Susan Shapiro...has been fortunate in finding wonderful literary mentors...She concludes by offering sage advice ...Shapiro seems like a master at building personal relationships. While her book won't help writers with grammar or plot structuring, it will offer them plentiful insight into creating a rich, collaborative literary life of their own.
The Writer

A wild ride through the life of an accomplished and prolific writer...Along the way readers are entertained and taught by her sardonic musings... Highly recommended reading for the aspiring freelancer, poet or novelist...a great read that teaches writers quite a bit without too much effort... a good bedside book for freelancers.

Only As Good As Your Word, Susan Shapiro's wise/crazy/funny memoir ... demystifies the process of how you become a writer...My favorite quote is the mantra from her best selling cousin Howard Fast: "Plumbers don't get plumber's block. Don't be self-indulgent. A page a day is a book a year."

Serious kick-in-the-pants inspiration from a book and article publishing dynamo. Expect to grab your notebook or run to your computer several times before you've even hit the third chapter.

Maybe what Britney needs is a good mentor. (Obviously Madonna didn't do the trick.) If she needs direction, she can get Shapiro's new book. We're big fans of Shapiro... we love her razor sharp take on relationships and human behavior. Now she talks about guides she's had in her career and how to get your own...

This month, one of my mentors, Susan Shapiro, published Only As Good As Your Word, a dishy memoir that doubles as a career advice manual about the literary mentors who shaped her 25 year career in publishing.
Marci Alboher,

Shapiro has excavated her life...with a compelling mix of merciless self-revelation, interspersed with wit that suggests a world of smart... Her high school teacher Jack Zucker told her that good writing "started in delight and ended in wisdom." Delight and wisdom are infused in this book. I highly recommend it.
Ron Mwangaguhunga's blog: The Corsair

...went to Borders to hear Sue read ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR WORD...She was fantastic and of the most dedicated and motivated writers I've ever met. She's absolutely inspirational and if you've been curious about how to really get yourself out there, read her new book.
Claire Bidwell Smith's Blog: Life in Chicago

...a delightful memoir about her writing career and mentors...I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the career of...a writer trying to make it in New York...Remarkably honest... entertaining and surprisingly useful for the aspiring writer since lessons shine through when there isn't any bullshit or political correctness...
Ben Casnocha: The Blog

I love her storytelling style - funny, honest and crazy...Her latest memoir about her relationships with her literary gurus is just as hilarious as her other memoirs. I can relate to her struggle and joy when she finally got published... This book will motivate you to find your own mentors if you haven't already.
The Trendsetter Blog

...Susan Shapiro's writing style is simple, conversational, light and fast-paced. At times the breathlessness comes through quite amusingly. To budding or growing writers, the tips are brutal but spot-on. I recommend the book highly...
La Vie Quotidienne blog

Great mentors make great writers. Susan Shapiro's ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR WORD chronicles the impact of her seven most trusted guides on her life and writing career. Each guru imparted different, yet equally important, wisdom and hope. Shapiro shares her success story and in the process provides advice for struggling writers...

In Shapiro's new book she recalls the wisdom of her favorite literary gurus. She takes the reader through... each relationship without taking the focus away from the strength of the lessons. Her successful career is bound to her ability to take words of her mentors to heart and her honest voice shows she knows it.
The Cape May Herald

Susan Shapiro's enjoyable memoir tracking her development from a lonely Midwestern adolescent to a professional freelance New York writer and teacher offers a refreshing view of the writing life...To her credit, she has made a habit of mentoring others... As the old Yiddish saying goes: "If you put something in, you can take something out."
Jewish Book World

Shapiro brings a wry voice and generous touch to stories about those who've affected her career. She looks at mentoring as both mentor and mentee... and tells her students the first time they come up with a piece their family hates means they've found their voice. Among other gems: "No never means no," when it comes to rejection. It means rewrite, re-edit, resubmit to a different editor.
ASJA Monthly
Wise, detailed, fast-paced and hilarious memoir about making it as a writer...a testament to gratitude, people skills and perseverance ...Shapiro depicts these mentors with respect and objectivity...The final chapters...should be required reading for all would-be writers...practical, timeless truths about personal and professional success.
Kirkus Reviews

...A frank, entertaining exposition of mentors who nurtured her...In an earthy and self-analytical style, she paints colorful balanced portraits...Shapiro displays a firm grasp of the appeal of personal anecdotes... Her wry sense of humor and confessional, gossipy tone leavens this lively honest work. Suited to public and university libraries.
Library Journal

In this lively, inspiring, dishy memoir/advice book, Shapiro shares secrets of success... gleaned from her stellar mentors, including Ian Frazier, and Howard Fast, who cautioned against self-indulgence: "Remember, a plumber never gets plumber's block." Not everyone has a bestselling relative, but everybody has a high school English teacher - Shapiro's first guru.
Publishers Weekly

...Wise and witty, Only As Good As Your Word...imparts important lessons...a thoughtful tribute to her mentors...Shapiro is one of the most self-revealing writers...She's also wickedly funny, compulsively readable, authentic, warm, and thankfully most self-aware, her style is no-holds-barred honest, edgy and bracingly refreshing.
Princeton Public Library

...I love the heroine, a sexy Alice in Wonderland, a classy woman about town, adventurous and yet with a deep-set naiveté that moves her to look up to these marvelous people, and in adoring them, to tell us more about them than we could otherwise know... A wonderful book, in every way. Very liberating, liberated.
Grace Schulman
author of The Broken String

In the guise of celebrating her gurus, a number of whom seem also to be co-conspirators, Susan Shapiro demonstrates that she is as much a mentor as mentee. Not only that, but she provides what amounts to nothing less than a survival guide for freelancers in her own inimitable voice - at once witty and intimate.
Victor Navasky
former editor of The Nation, author of Naming Names

You think you’re a writer? Read this book. It’s everything you wanted to know about getting published but were too full of yourself (or too insecure) to ask...Susan Shapiro spares no egos in this fierce, candid, compelling memoir of making it to print any way you can. Unputdownable.
Gael Greene
New York Magazine critic, author of Insatiable

Susan Shapiro has a pure writer’s soul. The attention and care she has received from others, she has returned by becoming a guardian angel to young writers. ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR WORD is ardent, enthusiastic, intelligent and very funny.
Alec Wilkinson
New Yorker staff writer, author of My Mentor:
A Young Writer’s Friendship With William Maxwell

One can never have enough mentors, and in ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR WORD, Susan Shapiro writes, with humor and brutal, unrelenting honesty, about a long career spent finding them, courting them, appreciating them, fighting with them, mourning them. And now, she can add, honoring them. A roadmap - along with an invitation and a warning - for aspiring writers to crack New York.
David Margolick
Vanity Fair contributing editor, author of Beyond Glory

With an irresistible energy and winning humor that come at you in a rush, and a breathtakingly frank honesty that undercuts any potential schmaltz, Susan Shapiro’s superb account of significant mentors is one of the best books I know about the writing life. It also has invaluable insights about the educational process by which one attains an assertive literary self. All in all, a terrific read.
Phillip Lopate
author of Against Joie de Vivre and Getting Personal

Another chatty intimate memoir from the author of FIVE MEN WHO BROKE MY HEART.

Incredibly revealing...great reading...chock-full of useful advice.
The Detroit News

...One thing every successful writer has - beside a fragile ego and need for therapy - is a good teacher. After spending years teaching writing at NYU and the New School and authoring several books, Shapiro knows a thing or two about mentoring. In her newest memoir she reflects on her own favorite gurus.

Have a lot of mentors so you don't drive one person crazy and hang out with people who tell you the truth...That's the bottom line in Shapiro's memoir...In a juicy and revealing chapter on her cousin Howard Fast, he says "Don't be self-indulgent...A plumber never gets plumber's block"... filled with smart, usable advice.
Downtown Express

The acclaimed memoirist who grew up in West Bloomfield has written five books. Her most recent "Only as Good as Your Word" about her mentors...includes Jack Zucker, her English teacher at Roeper. Shapiro has been married for 12 years to TV/film writer Charlie Rubin. She proudly notes they came to metro Detroit to teach a comedy seminar rather than go on a honeymoon.
Detroit Free Press

For more information, contact Seal Press publicist Andie East
at or call 510-595-3664 Ext. 372

Copyright 2004-2024 Susan Shapiro. All Rights Reserved.
Fix-Up Fanatic cover art by Mary Lynn Blasutta